Fehr, NHLPA respond to July proposal

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NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr and several prominent NHL players convened Tuesday to respond to the NHL's July proposal for a new collective bargaining agreement.

The players were expected to issue a counter-proposal, which Fehr briefly outlined, saying the players were willing to give up some hockey-related revenue over three years while largely keeping the contracting system intact.

Additionally. Fehr said that revenue sharing in the new proposal could involve upwards of $250 million.

"We do believe that the proposal the players made today, once implemented, can produce a stable industry," Fehr said. "One that, going forward, can give us a chance to move beyond the current labor strife that has plagued the NHL for the last two decades.

"Players want a new CBA, and they want it soon, but obviously it has to be one which is fair and equitable to the players as well as to the owners."

Fehr was not specific about the percentage reduction in hockey-related revenue the players proposed, but said the reduced player compensation over the three- year period could be anywhere from $465 million to $800 million based on the league's total revenues.

"In essence, when you boil it all down, what we're suggesting is that the players partner with the less financially stronger owners to help stabilize the owners and assist the less financially strong ownership groups."

The proposed CBA has an option for a fourth year, which, if exercised, would revert back to the current formula for hockey-related revenue. Fehr also reiterated that the proposal keeps the league's hard cap in place.

"No, it's not fair to interpret (that this agreement eliminates the hard cap)," Fehr explained. "There are a couple of small exceptions to it, but they're very limited and very defined and wouldn't affect the overall player's share.

"There are a number people who wondered if the way to solve any problems would be to eliminate the salary cap and let each club pay based on its own resources and control its own budget with enhanced revenue sharing. The owners, as you well know, are not interested in that approach, and our desire is to try and make an agreement."

Fehr expects commissioner Gary Bettman and the league's owners to take some time to review their proposal. Bettman himself stated previously that the league is prepared to lock out the players if a new CBA is not agreed upon by September 15.

There were two previous long-term lockouts under Bettman, one which lasted from October, 1994 to January, 1995 and one which wiped out the entire 2004-05 season.